In 2010, the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg (BGF, Switzerland), in collaboration with the Natural History Museum Fribourg (NHMF, Switzerland) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI, United Kingdom), initiated an interdisciplinary project to undertake the scientific review and coordinated conservation actions on relict, rare and threatened woody species, with a main focus on the relict tree genus Zelkova (Ulmaceae). Further research partners joined Project Zelkova during the past years (see under Partners) forming today an international network of ca. 20 institutions from ca. 10 countries worldwide.
As part of the Zelkova abelicea conservation project, an ex situ plantation was established in the Levka Ori with the involvement of the Municipality of Platanias, the Forest Directorate of Chania (FDC), the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) and the local Primary school of Skine-Fourne.
In the framework of the project on "Pterocarya and Juglandaceae", a research expedition was held during August 2015 across Georgia, in order to investigate the present situation of Pterocarya fraxinifolia stands in riparian forests and propose the most suitable protection measures. Dr Nino Davitashvili, our leading scientist in Georgia, had already a great experience of Pterocarya forests and could guide researchers from Switzerland to the most interesting and endangered communities. This expedition was also an opportunity to explore the last remnants of Zelkova carpinifolia forests and to analyse precisely their structure and diversity. This work was done by Daniel Ducry (University of Fribourg) as part of his Master’s Degree focused on Zelkova forest from the Mediterranean region to the Southern Caucasus.
Pterocarya tonkinensis has the most southern distribution among the species of the genus - it occurs in riparian forests of Southern China, Laos and Vietnam. An expedition was held in 2015 in order to find and investigate this fascinating tree in Vietnam in collaboration with the Vietnam National University of Forestry in Hanoi.
Quand les arbres nous parlent / Wenn die Bäume sprechen könnten: The conference (in French) was held at the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) on 27th of February 2016. Main subject: Relict trees of Crete (Greece), Georgia (South Caucasus) and Japan.
One of the project activities is to monitor on a yearly basis the vegetation and shoot elongation of Zelkova abelicea within the fenced pilot plots as compared to the situation outside the fenced plots in browsed areas. In several plots, shoot elongation clearly increased, with some shoots measuring over 40 cm already in mid-June.
Project Zelkova addresses five main objectives
- Basic and applied research on relict, rare and/or threatened woody species (biogeography, conservation biology, phylogeny, phylogeography, population genetics, population structure, dendrochronology, etc.).
- Conservation actions (in situ and ex situ conservation), action plans and conservation status assessments.
- Capacity building (teaching, internships, exchange of students and young scientists, etc.).
- Public awareness and outreach (exhibitions, books, workshops, etc.).
- Iconographic collections (scientific photography, scientific drawings, etc.)
PTEROCARYA & JUGLANDACEAE
Conservation biogeography of Pterocarya & Juglandaceae
Relict and threatened woody species of Azerbaijan
Relict trees of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan